So what would have happened if the SNP had voted Green?

In the previous post, So what about that second vote? I tried to explain how the modified D’Hondt system was used to provide a proportional representation from the Scottish regions to the Scottish Parliament.

That post was written because people on Twitter were talking about how best to use their second vote. None of them provided any evidence for the convictions, and it became clear that they didn’t understand the system. That was fair enough because neither did I, and nor did anyone I asked. So the question about how best to use the second vote seemed, to me at least, to somewhat depend on an understanding of how the system worked.

In this post I want to look at what would have happened if all the people who voted SNP in the North East region in 2007 had voted Green. Would that have changed things? And, if the result was different, what would the difference look like, and mean.

Might be best to quickly look at what the result actually was


North East Scotland 2007

It all starts with the constituency vote. Not the tally of votes per party in the constituencies; that’s not important here. What matters is the number of seats that the parties gained in the constituency vote

image (1)

  • Labour: 1 seat
  • Liberal Democrats: 2 seats
  • SNP: 6 seats

The regional vote in NE Scotland in 2007 looked like this

image (2)

And this resulted in

image (3)

  • Conservatives: 2 seats
  • Labour: 2 seats
  • Liberal Democrats: 1 seat
  • SNP: 2 seats

And putting this with the constituency seats

  • Labour: 1 seat
  • Liberal Democrats: 2 seats
  • SNP: 6 seats

image (4)

  • Conservatives: 2
  • Green: 0
  • Labour: 3
  • Liberal Democrat: 3
  • SNP: 8
  • SSP: 0

And that’s what happened. Sixteen candidates were elected. 50% of these were from an independence supporting party (the SNP) with the other 50% split between the Better Together supporting parties.

Looking at the this from an independence/unionist point of view I wondered what would have happened if every single one of those SNP voters had voted for another independence supporting party? What would have happened if every single one of those SNP voters had, for example, voted Green?


In NE Scotland in 2007, the SNP gained six constituency seats and received 105,265 regional votes whereas the Greens gained no constituency seats and received 8,148 in the regional list vote. So what I’ve done is take all those SNP votes and added them to the Green tally which gives the Greens an imagined tally of 113,413. I’m not going to explain how this all works again (it’s on the previous post), but here’s a summary

Round 1

  • Conservative: 37,666
  • Greens: 113,413
  • Labour: 26,063
  • Liberal Democrat: 13,645
  • SNP: 0
  • SSP: 1,051

Result: the Greens win their first regional seat

Round 2

  • Conservative: 37,666
  • Greens: 56,707
  • Labour: 26,063
  • Liberal Democrat: 13,645
  • SNP: 0
  • SSP: 1,051

Result: the Greens win their second regional seat

Round 3

  • Conservative: 37,666
  • Greens: 37,804
  • Labour: 26,063
  • Liberal Democrat: 13,645
  • SNP: 0
  • SSP: 1,051

Result: the Greens win their third regional seat

Round 4

  • Conservative: 37,666
  • Greens: 28,353
  • Labour: 26,063
  • Liberal Democrat: 13,645
  • SNP: 0
  • SSP: 1,051

Result: the Tories win their first regional seat

Round 5

  • Conservative: 18,833
  • Greens: 28,353
  • Labour: 26,063
  • Liberal Democrat: 13,645
  • SNP: 0
  • SSP: 1,051

Result: the Greens win their fourth regional seat

Round 6

  • Conservative: 18,833
  • Greens: 22,683
  • Labour: 26,063
  • Liberal Democrat: 13,645
  • SNP: 0
  • SSP: 1,051

Result: Labour win their first regional seat

Round 7

  • Conservative: 18,833
  • Greens: 22,683
  • Labour: 13,031
  • Liberal Democrat: 13,645
  • SNP: 0
  • SSP: 1,051

Result: the Greens win their fifth regional seat


So, in this imaginary scenario the regional result would be:-

  • Conservatives: 1 (-1)
  • Green: 5 (+5)
  • Labour: 1 (-2)
  • Liberal Democrat: 0 (-1)
  • SNP: 0 (-6)

which possibly, just by looking at the figures, won’t cut much mustard with SNP people. However, looking at it from a independence/unionist perspective the result would be:-

  • pro-independence party representatives: 11 (+3)
  • unionist party representatives: 5 (-3)
So by not voting SNP in the regional vote in North East Scotland in 2007, SNP voters could have elected more pro-independence representatives than they did by voting SNP.

The next post will consider what would have happened if the SNP regional vote had been equally split between the Greens and the SSP

2 thoughts on “So what would have happened if the SNP had voted Green?

  1. I’ve seen this argument raging too, about whether it’s possible to use your second vote tactically. Some say definitely you can, others argue it’s impossible to influence the result that way. I’ve read other explanations of d’Hondt too – then totally forgotten how it works within 5 minutes! My feeling at the moment is it’s too unpredictable because there are several possible candidates and you don’t know what everyone else is going to do. In FPTP polls can indicate who’s most likely to keep a certain candidate out. And as you say, nobody really understands it anyway. However, I await your 3rd post with interest.

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